The best table radio I’ve heard in years is the Cambridge Soundworks 705. It’s solid and friendly-looking, with an old-fashioned round dial and a nice soft feel to the reduction gears inside its knob. (All three of its knobs feel good, actually.) Sound on AM as well as FM is outstanding, especially considering its small size. It’s mono, but only through its excellent speaker. It’s stereo though the headphone jack, so you can hook up to external stereo speakers if you like. The internal antenna works well, and it has a jack for an external one if you want to inprove reception. I think it’s a bargain at $99.99 from HiFi.com (Cambridge SoundWorks’ website); but they have it for $20 less at the company’s warehouse store in Needham. Comes in three colors: black, white and gray. I like the white.
Also from Cambridge SoundWorks, the PCWorks speaker system has been selling for years at $39.95 or something. Right now it lists for $10 more than that. The warehouse in Needham has it for $36-something. I’ve bought maybe five of these over the years, usually for service as laptop sound systems. People are always astonished at how good they sound, especially for the money. There’s a shoebox-sized bass unit, tiny (2.5″ square) right and left speakers, and a volume control in the cord that runs from your source (typically a portable MP3 player or a laptop, but anything with a headphone jack). The speakers cables and audio source cable are all long, which makes it easy to spread the speakers far apart or to hide most of the gear somewhere. Comes in white and black.
Want cheap HDTV? Combine that PCWorks speaker system with a low-cost LCD monitor like one of these from Costco, which start at $199. Plug the two into your HDTV set-top box and you’ve got an HDTV for less than $250. That’s kinda what I did yesterday when I needed to test our new Verizon FiOS (fiber optic) installation. We don’t have a TV of any kind here, but we have a PCWorks speaker system and a ViewSonic 22″ 1680 x 1050 display that cost in the low $200s from Costco. It was a jury-rigged setup, but something of a revelation: together they look and sound fabulous.
Last but far from least, the You-Do-It Electronics Center. If you’re a hardware geek who’s lucky enough to live near Boston, this place is Shangri-La. They don’t have everything, but it sure seems that way. (Look Honey, they sell capacitors!) Last night I grazed there for half an hour (way too short a time) picked up a cheap Y connector (RCA male to 1/8″ female) and a nice Uniden cordless phone with a headset jack. Works very nicely too. You can’t miss the neon signage peering over the northbound entrance ramp to
495 I-95/128 (see comments for the correction) at the Needham interchange. Finding the store is a lot harder. Clue: take the street next to the Hess station, and just look around the industrial district behind there.